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Apple sued over iPhone caller ID

'I spit on your 200 patents'

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When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at Mac World back in January 2007, he told the Apple faithful that his portable status symbol was backed by 200 patents. And the Apple faithful cheered. But that hasn't prevented an onslaught of iPhone-happy lawsuits.

After all, this is America.

Other patent holders have already sued Steve Jobs and company over the iPhone's touch screen, its virtual keyboard, and its so-called visual voicemail. And now an inventor named Romek Figa has gone after the handheld's caller ID feature, insisting it infringes a patent he bagged back in 1990.

Figa's patent, describes an "an automatic incoming telephone call number display system for detecting an incoming call and identifying the party associated with the incoming call number".

Like the iPhone, the system "includes a directory of telephone numbers and parties associated with those numbers," and it's equipped with "circuitry that detects the origin telephone number of an incoming telephone call and compares that number with numbers in the directory for identifying the calling party."

This patented system also includes a display that "permits the user to view the incoming call number and party associated with that number." It's worth noting, however, that this display differs from the iPhone's display:

Not an iPhone

Not an iPhone

Nonetheless, Figa's suit insists that "Apple has made or is making, has used or is using, has offered or is offering to sell, and/or has sold and is selling telephones which infringe" on his patent. In July, according to the suit, Figa asked Apple if they'd like to license the patent, but they said no. ®

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